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Invasion of the Lady Beetles

10/31/08 5:45PM By Amy Klinger
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(HOST) Most of the time, commentator Amy Klinger is a writer and marketing consultant, but this time of year she's your worst nightmare - if you happen to be an Asian Lady Beetle.

(KLINGER) For most people, Autumn in Vermont means rolling red and gold hills, the tang of fresh cider, pumpkins and squash in all shapes and colors. But for me, the season is about ladybugs.

Technically, they¹re Asian Lady Beetles, an invasive species brought to the U.S. to control aphid populations. But with no predator of their own, their population has exploded. If you have a less than perfectly sealed house and get any amount of sun, the hibernation season may lead vast numbers of them to cover your windows Amityville-horror style, congregate in corners, and even crawl into bed with you.
There¹s not a whole lot that can be done once they¹ve decided your home is the Boca Raton for bugs. The advice from neighbors is to vacuum them up. Effective, to be sure, for about three minutes. Just long enough to have eliminated them from the study before returning to the kitchen to find a whole new party.
To be fair, these aren¹t the most destructive of pests. They don¹t bite, and they don¹t breed or eat indoors. But they¹re pests in the truest sense: irritating in their sheer volume and the audacity with which they waddle around the perimeter of my kitchen table.
Eventually, their presence will lead even the most docile, tree-hugging peacenik to crack: wielding the vacuum hose like an AK-47 and exhibiting a strange glee in banishing the critters to the abyss of a darkened vacuum bag.
It¹s unfortunate that many of the storybooks my two-year-old daughter enjoys prominently feature ladybugs dancing, singing and being sweet among the flowers and other smiley insects. Watching her mother suck up the protagonists of her bedtime stories cannot be helping her emotional development.

Perhaps it¹s because of this that my perspective has shifted a bit. I found a handful of them in our bathroom recently, a location I thought was too remote and too humid to meet their climate criteria. And it occurred to me that these unlikely survivors were explorers - Captain James Cook of the Lady Beetles and his intrepid crew discovering a coconut-smelling paradise, complete with sudden torrential rains and even the occasional naked lady.
And I must confess, as I watched the beetles cluster, something about the scene struck me as tender and sweet in the way they signaled out to one another across the bleakness of eggshell-white colored walls. As I watched one lone Lady Beetle march a singular path to join a knot of its friends gathered high in the only space I cannot reach, I could almost hear myself offering encouragement,  Keep pushing. You¹ll make it.

But of course, it didn¹t. Because while the Lady Beetles may seem like the stalwart and enduring survivors of the TV show Lost, my hissing vacuum and I are that mysterious plume of black smoke wreaking a sudden and violent path of destruction that leaves no trace of Lady Beetles in its wake.
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